The trophic importance of algal turfs for coral reef fishes: the crustacean link

Kramer, M.J., Bellwood, O., and Bellwood, D.R. (2013) The trophic importance of algal turfs for coral reef fishes: the crustacean link. Coral Reefs, 32 (2). pp. 575-583.

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On coral reefs, the epilithic algal matrix (EAM) is widely recognised as an important resource for herbivorous and detritivorous fishes. In comparison, little is known of the interaction between benthic carnivores and the EAM, despite the abundance of Crustacea within the EAM. The trophic importance of the EAM to fishes was investigated in Pioneer Bay, Orpheus Island, Great Barrier Reef. Fish densities were quantified using visual and clove oil censuses, and gut content analyses conducted on abundant fish species. Crustaceans were found to be an important dietary category, contributing between 49.5 and 100 % of the gut contents, with harpacticoid copepods being the dominant component. Of the benthic carnivores, the goby Eviota zebrina was found to consume the most harpacticoids with a mean of 249 copepods m−2 day−1. This represents approximately 0.1 % of the available harpacticoid population in the EAM. In a striking comparison, herbivorous parrotfishes were estimated to consume over 12,000 harpacticoids m−2 day−1, over 27 times more than all benthic carnivores surveyed, representing approximately 5.3 % of the available harpacticoid copepod population each day. The high consumption of harpacticoid copepods by benthic carnivores and parrotfishes indicates that harpacticoids form an important trophic link between the EAM and higher trophic levels on coral reefs.

Item ID: 32070
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Crustacea; Harpacticoid copepods; epilithic algal matrix; cryptobenthic fish; parrotfish; benthic carnivory
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2014 01:14
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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